Back we are for, believe it or not, our 18th season of the Hotpage.
Of course, we have been in the midst of mock season, as I am sure you know if you tune in here, or anywhere in the fantasy universe, where drafting as prep is de rigueur.
One of the things that is curious--and though I have my opinions on ADP, that is most certainly not what I am writing about here--is how stagnant the first round is from year-to-year.
Now, I am not finding fault with how we value players, but, we also know that statistically, two-thirds of the first rounders of this year will not finish the season with production worthy of that initial lofty perch.
So, to start this year's official craziness, let's look at the first round NFBC ADP players so far, and see which ones we think will miss the cut in a year, and perhaps another player who might prove to be a better selection when we look back.
#1-Mike Trout (CF, LAA): Trout is the consensus #1, and the two times I (well, really Todd and I) have had first pick at anything so far this season, Trout has been the guy. And, while I really don't think he can get any better, neither do I think he will fail at much of anything. Simply put, he can do everything you want a player to do it seems.
#2-Miguel Cabrera (1B, Det): Aside from rollover injury fears from last year, Miggy is the best hitter in the game, including Trout. But, well, he doesn't steal and he was hurt last year, so he's a bridesmaid in 2014.
#3-Paul Goldschmidt (1B, Ari): Funny, because to me, now is where the picking becomes dicey. As in clearly Trout and Miggy are one and two, but then where do you go? I do think Goldy is a solid enough hitter and he can repeat his numbers and be durable. #3 though? Do I like McCutchen's potential better here figuring I can get Brandon Belt five rounds later and that pairs better than say Goldschmidt and Starling Marte? I don't think he will drop off much, but similarly, not sure he is a first rounder. Or a #3.
#4-Andrew McCutchen (CF, Pit): The closest thing there is to an NL version of Trout at this juncture, Andrew the second best five category guy out there.
#5-Clayton Kershaw (SP, LAD): The best arm in the Majors the past three seasons, Kershaw is not quite like picking Pedro used to be, but he is close. Furthermore, I am a big believer in not just building--and if you can trading from--strong pitching, and having the most dominant makes up for a couple of so-so arms later on.
#6-Chris Davis (1B, Bal): Davis is coming off a year-and-a-half of major pop. And, he had a great year last year, but I don't see him in the first round next year. Not so much that I see a huge drop-off, but I do see Joey Votto having a better season. Or translated, I am not convinced that the jump in OBP Davis experienced relative to his average will be repeated (even with last year's .370, his career OBP is just .327). I see .270-33-85 again, like he hit in 2012. Which is indeed pretty good, but maybe not first round good. I might have considered taking Hanley here, by the way.
#7-Carlos Gonzalez (LF, Col): It still kills me that Oakland traded Carlos because it seemed so obvious how good he could become. It is true Cargo is injury prone, which is the drawback. Otherwise, he would be in McCutchen-land. Still, he is just 27, and I have a feeling his on-base numbers will improve the next few years.
#8-Adam Jones (CF, Bal): I don't see Jones on the top-15 next year. 176 walks to 738 strikeouts, with a .279 screams for a major on-base correction to me. Still some power, sure. I would rather have Alex Rios here. Or if I was going to take a chance, Jason Kipnis would be more interesting, and perhaps more fun.
#9-Robinson Cano (2B, Sea): Among the five best hitters in the Majors, and, well, no, I don't care about the ballpark factor. "Why?" you may ask. Because Cano can hit, and I believe a good hitter can hit anywhere. And, Cano is .318-7-50 over 74 games at Safeco, so I am guessing he will hit there.
#10-Hanley Ramirez (SS, LAD): Not sure where Hanley went there for a few years (ok, some injury effects) but he seems to be back now. Before his struggles, Hanley was a top-five guy. He is still a top-10.
#11-Ryan Braun (RF, Mil): Braun can play, I am sure of that. But, I don't see him in a full return to form, whatever that is, this year. I do think Braun wants to prove himself to us, but I also think it can be hard to live under that shadow (right Melky Cabrera?). I like Matt Kemp better here, someone who has his talent baselined, but is fighting a different demon. Or, taking a chance on Yasiel Puig is probably what I would do.
#12-Jacoby Ellsbury (CF, NYY): Lots of talent, but such a huge drop in power numbers the last two years that it is hard to get a read on Ellsbury beyond average and speed. And, the Yankees are more of an aging team than anything else. Still, Ellsbury dropped off the first round after last year, so this is a fun kind of rebound pick, and the steals and runs and hits certainly justify Ellsbury's spot here.
#13-Bryce Harper (LF, Was): Harper took a big selectivity step forward last year, improving his OBP by 28 points despite just a four-point rise in his average (from .270 to .274). And, I like Harper as a gamble, or different angle here, especially since there in five picks you get to choose again. However, again, I am not sure I see first rounder here. I might like Adrian Beltre here. Or Yoenis Cespedes, who has shown as much power as Harper and has just enough more experience and skills to see a jump. I might also consider Buster Posey, who can fill either a catcher or first base slot.
#14-Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Col) No question Tulo can hit. But, no question, Tulo has trouble staying healthy. But, I think the bottom line is we keep picking Tulo here thinking, or rather hoping, he will play in 150 games, and hit 30 homers and knock in 100 runs and hit .300 and steal 15 bases. I don't think that is going to happen again. I would prefer Ian Desmond to improve upon his .280-20-80 over Tulo simply repeating his .312-25-82.
#15-Prince Fielder (1B, Tex): Fielder's 2013 line of .279-25-106 is just about the worst of his eight-year career as a starter. I am guessing in Texas, during his peak career days, Fielder will pick it back up and put together one of his better seasons.